Being a doctor in the middle of the pandemic can be a herculean feat. We asked one of our sisses, Eileen Mabul Malapaya-Manalo MD, MSc, to share with us her experience for the first feature of Humans Of Phi.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝗮 𝗱𝗼𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗽𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗺𝗶𝗰?
In the beginning of the pandemic, I was really scared; scared of dying, scared of bringing the virus home to my family. But I had so many patients to take care of, especially my IVF (in-vitro fertilization) and high risk- pregnancy patients who needed to be monitored and subsequently delivered. In March, we didn't even have the proper protective gear. Masks, especially N95's were scarce. I was lucky to have patients who gave donations of masks, alcohol and goggles, which I shared with other OB-Gyns in Asian Hospital & Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, St. Lukes Global and PGH. Together with my patient contacts, and OB-Gyn colleagues, we outsourced and bought our own PPE's. Large PPE donations (over a thousand), I coursed through PGH, which had been converted into a COVID hospital, and other secondary hospitals. Soon, doctors I didn't even know started contacting me for donations - and I became a conduit for these donations coming from donors. Face shields, goggles, gloves, masks, hazmats, rubbing alcohol, aerosols. You name it, the donations came pouring in, and were sent to government and private doctors and hospitals. The more donations I sent to hospitals, the more requests came, and my waking hours were spent coursing the donations to the corresponding doctors and hospitals, and watching Netflix (which I never watched pre-COVID).
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗲𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗱𝗮𝘆?
With the lockdown, I asked permission from the Medical Director of Asian Hospital who happens to be a brod, Dr. Lito Acuin, to see my high-risk & problematic patients. So, weekly I held clinic seeing 20-25 patients each clinic day. Gynecologic surgeries and IVF cases were put on hold limiting my practice to OPD and deliveries, which I looked forward to, I was the only person in Asian Hospital holding clinics. We reveled in our new look: the hazmats, the goggles, the face masks, but surgeries became extremely challenging - the hazmats were too hot, the goggles and face shields caused too much fogging making surgical visibility next to impossible. How I was able to do over 20 surgeries without complications was nothing short of a miracle. Truly God's divine intervention. The PAPR ( Powered Air Purifying Respirators) that I ordered in April, came in June and was truly heaven sent. Surgeries became a breeze after that.
As I was saying, I kept buying PPE's. I knew we were in this pandemic for the long haul and I together with my husband (Dr. Atoy Manalo, a brod, & daughter an incoming intern as well as my non- medical family members) might as well be well- equipped for it. Every so often, I give residents and fellows these PPE's / hazmat suit.
𝗖𝗮𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘀𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘂𝘀 𝗮 𝗴𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗽𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝗱𝗼𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗶𝗱𝗱𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗮 𝗽𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗺𝗶𝗰?
I now have almost regular clinic days but am just seeing about a third or a half of my patient load compared to the pre-COVID era. I have been exposed to about 5 asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID patients and have undergone RT-PCR swabbing four times. I miss doing all the things I excel in- singing, lecturing (locally and abroad), and doing challenging gynecologic laparoscopic surgeries. Traveling too. So far, I've done one webinar lecture, with 2 more coming up. I've moderated in one webinar. I am literally sick and tired of webinars, zoom meetings, but I know I have to face them and accept them as the new normal.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗼 𝗸𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲𝘀?
You know what I think? Those of us left behind are given a chance to purify ourselves, to be of service to others, to repent, to be better human beings, to show more love, greater kindness, patience until our time comes. As doctors, we are given the best opportunity to do just that.